Does Peter O'Malley have a fair chance to buy the Dodgers?
Which is pretty curious, considering the statements that Frank McCourt has made over the years.
If you were to add up all the things that McCourt has said about owning and selling the Dodgers, then O’Malley would be his dream buyer. A gift from the baseball heavens. Trouble is, what McCourt says and what he does are not always seen walking hand in hand.
When McCourt first purchased the Dodgers from Fox, he heralded it as a return to family ownership. The wife, the four kids, and two second cousins from Portsmouth were all going to be involved.
"Family ownership has returned to the Dodgers," McCourt said during his first press conference. "The era of corporate ownership is over."
He all but put the O’Malley family on a pedestal, saying in an interview with the Boston Globe: "They built a great legacy here. There was a real tremendous tradition built over the years of [O'Malley] family ownership. We're going to return it to that and go beyond that. That's our goal and mission.”
Of course, later in divorce proceedings he all but admitted that it was all a public-relations sham, claiming that he only referred to wife Jamie as co-owner for the family, feel-good element.
"That was really to harken back to the O'Malley days," Frank testified. "It was a nicer, more comfortable, warmer way to refer to ownership."
And now that he’s finally agreed to sell the team, he’s promised: "We're going to move forward and handle the situation now in as professional a way as possible and make sure the baton is passed here in a classy way."
Has there ever been a classier man than Peter O’Malley?
If O’Malley has the financial backing — and he’s tight with billionaire Eli Broad, Fox and plenty of the well-heeled — he sounds like McCourt’s ideal buyer.
Only there is this slim possibility that McCourt hardly holds O’Malley with the same reverence he once at least feigned to.
Tired of watching the Dodgers dragged through the mud and losing respect, O’Malley was one of the first public figures to call for McCourt to sell the team. I’m thinking that didn’t inspire cartwheels in Frank’s home. Or at least his hotel suite.
And O’Malley made his statement back in September of last year. He said absolutely nothing that everyone else wasn’t thinking — "The current Dodger ownership has lost all credibility throughout the city" — but he said it, and it had to wound McCourt.
Now let’s say in the end Major League Baseball approves five ownership groups to bid in the Dodgers’ auction and O’Malley is one of them. Frank is the guy who gets to pick the winner. The Times’ T.J. Simers is wondering if he doesn’t already know exactly who he wants to pass the team onto — in that classy way, of course.
McCourt will understandably be looking for the most return he can squeeze out of the team, but O’Malley has already warned against overpaying for the Dodgers, telling the Daily News’ Jill Painter:
"There's all kinds of numbers being tossed around. In my opinion, if anyone overpays, that's a major mistake. They could end up in a similar situation (as McCourt) in a few years. Unless you have a realistic chance of breaking even and being profitable, it's too big of a gamble at some price.”
So if the bids are relatively equal, it’s hard to imagine McCourt deems O’Malley his winner. That might prove that returning the Dodgers to the family ownership ways of the O’Malley family is a tad too literal for McCourt.
— Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Peter O'Malley in 2008. Credit: Mike Groll / Associated Press